New Contest: Get your short story published in Writer's Digest magazine


It’s a bit hard to believe (the summer flew, right?) but it’s already time for another round of our Your Story contest, the free writing competition that could land you on Writer’s Digest magazine’s lone fiction page.

Up for a challenge?

??In 750 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring, send your response to the prompt below to yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com, and/or post it in the Comments section and I’ll enter it in the competition. By posting below and sharing your work, you’ll also be automatically entered in our occasional around-the-office swag drawings. (If you’re having trouble with the captcha code sticking, feel free to e-mail your story to me at writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll make sure it gets up.) ??Afterward, the WD editors will select their favorite entries, and our forum members will vote on a winner. The latest prompt (deadline: Oct. 10), from our October issue, follows.

Good luck!

* * *

??
WRITING PROMPT:
Your Story No. 29????

While remodeling a room of your house, you discover a door to another room you didn’t know existed.?


 
MORE RESOURCES FOR WRITERS

• If you’re a freelance-inclined scribe, you might be interested in a new
bootcamp WD has in the works (this weekend!). Here’s some info: “With publishing
companies laying off workers, freelance writers offer them a cheaper
alternative. But the sad truth is the success of a freelance writer
isn’t usually just based on quality of work or marketing. It’s often
about who’s the most organized, has a clear plan for future goals, and
understands how to best execute it.” Want to know how to do it? Check
out Eric Butterman’s How to Get Freelance Work Bootcamp.

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    “No, just come in.”
    It wasn’t a long journey. My flashlight immediately found Roger’s face in the darkness. When I reached him, he took the flashlight and aimed it at the walls all around us. We were in a little room. There was a poster of a duckling, and some crayon illustrations taped on the walls. I was in awe.
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  8. Karina Dove Escobar

    "The Basement"

    Okay, I admit it. I’ve always had an unnatural fear of basements. Well, not the cute refurbished ones with the cheery yellow walls, delicate ivy stencilings, and plush reading chairs. Those are all fine.
    It’s the ones with the chilly, concrete floors and the shadows that resemble closet monsters that really give me the shivers. I guess I just never got over my fear of the dark.
    It’s probably all my brother’s fault. He was always hiding behind corners, then jumping out at me after I descended the creaky stairs, with a basket full of laundry held tightly in my arms. The awful heart-in-my-throat feeling never left me.
    But, don’t get me wrong. I’ve still managed to live a somewhat decent life. I’ve gotten married. I’ve been on trips. I even got to ride a camel.
    But when Roger and I started to discuss moving out of our cluttered apartment and into something family-sized, the phobia crept in again. I didn’t mention it. I had lived without a spooky basement for years at that time. I thought I had gotten over it. So, we bought a house. It had a basement, and I pretended like I didn’t care.
    But, of course, it was clammy down there. And it had this really deep crack slithering its way down the wall, behind the washing machine. I begged Roger to fix it, but he was too busy re-tiling the bathroom floor.
    So, the crack was still there when I was stuffing wet clothes into the dryer and the whole neighborhood lost power. It was pitch black and all I could think about was the crack behind the washing machine. And the thousands of baby spiders that were probably escaping from its depths that very moment. So, I left the laundry in a heap on the floor and ran screaming upstairs.
    That’s when Roger decided to buy some paint and mortar. We were going to create the basement of my dreams. We started immediately, working together to move the washing machine. Then, I looked at the wall, and froze. Roger looked at me and smirked.
    “Aw, they’re just cobwebs.”
    I looked at him like he was crazy.
    “Yeah. I know those are cobwebs!” I said, exasperated. I pointed at the wall with force. “But, what are they hanging in?”
    “It’s a giant hole in the wall.” He said.
    Yep. It was the biggest gaping hole I’ve ever seen. It was perfectly square, two-times bigger than a doggie-door, and extremely dark. Roger whipped out a flashlight from his back pocket.
    “Let’s check it out.” He said. And without another word, he shone the light and stuck his head through, getting cobwebs in his hair. I watched in disbelief as his shoulders followed his head. Then his torso, and his legs. Then, he disappeared entirely. I cautiously squatted down and tried to peer in, but Roger had vanished into the darkness.
    “Did you find anything?” I shouted after him.
    I could barely make out Roger saying, “Yeah, Kris. You should see this. Here, I’ll throw you the flashlight.”
    Before I could protest, it was at my feet, so I picked it up and began worming through.
    “Are you sure about this, Roger?” I asked. “You’re not going to scare me or anything, right?”
    A chuckle was his response.
    “No, just come in.”
    It wasn’t a long journey. My flashlight immediately found Roger’s face in the darkness. When I reached him, he took the flashlight and aimed it at the walls all around us. We were in a little room. There was a poster of a duckling, and some crayon illustrations taped on the walls. I was in awe.
    It wasn’t the best choice for a play area, but it was obvious someone was here before. A queue of toy vehicles perched on the ledge across from us, and a suggestion in a child’s handwriting was hanging right beside it.
    “Please take good care of my cars,” it said. And that was all.
    Roger and I climbed out, shook the dust from our clothes, looked at each other, and smiled.
    We resumed our basement clean-up. We painted it yellow. We fixed the crack. We even stenciled green ivy on the walls, and bought a comfortable reading chair. But, we kept the hole.
    And after six more months of craving chocolate-covered strawberries like mad, I had someone to watch over those cars with. A beautiful baby boy.

  9. Sally Cha

    “Okay, now, how do I get back? Why did I even get myself into such trouble?” This is me at the age of fourteen, wondering how I should go back to the future. “Future?” one may ask. To explain this I will have to go back to two days ago, or, 24 years later.
    Every ten years, my family remodels our house, expecting to live a more comfortable life. This year, my parents put me in charge of decorating my own room. After I removed the bulky furniture, I discovered a brown rugged door leading to a basement. There were piles of old photos stacked and a dusty red carpet placed in the middle. On the carpet were some vanishing words that read, ‘Warning: One CANNOT…’ To look at the photos precisely, I picked out a photo of our family taken when I was six, and sat on the red carpet. I blew the dust off the photo; then, light flashed, the house trembling. I ran upstairs and to find my old dog Penny, alive, and the Cosby Show live on TV. I checked the calendar and realized that it was June 28, 1991: my 6th birthday. I ran back to the hidden room to think of what could have happened. I reached a conclusion that when I blew the dust off of the picture, I had brought myself to the past relating to that picture.
    In upstairs, many people rushing into my house saying “Happy birthday!” or “Thanks for inviting me.” There were many people who came to wish me a happy birthday, and I looked awfully happy. Feeling that I had enough taste of my good past, I turned around and headed towards the hidden room.
    While going back, I happened to pass by my parents’ room, there, overhearing a strange conversation. “Should we tell her?” “No, let’s tell her when she’s old enough.” It seemed as if they were keeping a secret from me. My curiosity stimulated me to go back to the basement and blow the dust off of my family photo taken on my first birthday. Once again, there was a flash and a tremble. On going out of the hidden room, I found my room my old blankie and toys lying on the bed looking as good as new. Just then, my parents came into the house carrying a newborn baby and many party goods. My curiosity made me hide under the kitchen table to overhear my parents’ conversation. My mom seemed very excited whereas my dad seemed to be rather mad. He said “Do we have to throw such a big party for someone that’s not actually related to us?” My mom calmly said, “Look honey, even though she doesn’t have our blood, she is still part of our family.” Thump! My heart sank down, leaving a huge scar. The secret they were keeping from me was that I was an orphan child who was adopted by my parents.
    I dragged my wounded self to the basement and tried to relax there without minding what had just happened. The best way to know more about this was to go back to future and ask my parents about details of my adoption. However, being in the past, there was no picture of the future that could take me back. Then, the warning on the red carpet caught my eyes. Since I came back to the past, the warning was seen clear and I was able to read what it was trying to tell me. It read; ‘Warning: One CANNOT go back to the future once they are in the past!’
    This is why I was regretting about traveling through time. For two hours, I tried to find out a way to go back to the future, looking from pocket to pocket to see if there were any future pictures that I had with me. Too much frustration was making me tired and I decided to take a nap.
    Feeling thirsty from long hours of sleep, I headed downstairs to take a drink. I found the interior of our house changed into the way it was in 2010. Thinking I was half asleep, I continued to look through the refrigerator. Then, my mom is called me from the back, saying “Where were you for the past 2 days? We were looking for you everywhere…”

  10. Ian Lowe

    The New Room

    Jeremy didn’t like the new room. It was dark and grey. There was no one to play with, no toys or books or windows.

    Eventually, he found that if he listened closely, if he was very quiet and still, he could peek around the corner. He could see Mother and Father and baby Annabelle.

    They never came to play with Jeremy. He supposed he was being punished, but he couldn’t remember why.
    ***
    Jeremy didn’t like the new room. He couldn’t remember the last time anyone came to visit him, or even spoke to him. He had a faint memory — from how long ago? — of his mother whispering his name in the dark. He had reached out for her. "Momma," he’d called. But she went on whispering his name until she fell asleep.

    Annabelle was big now. How had that happened? He knew he had been in the new room for a long time, but now she looked four or five.

    When she was alone, he would follow her around the house, watching her play.

    One day, she was playing in her room (which was bright and baby blue) with her dolls in the dollhouse that Uncle Thomas had made for her.

    "Mother," she said in her daddy voice, "put little Franklin down to bed."

    He whispered to her, "My name’s Jeremy."

    She paused for a moment. "Mother," she said again, "put little Jeremy down to bed."

    She had heard him! How much fun they would have together.

    He showed her places to play, told her secrets. Would she like to know what Momma and Dadda said in the dark, after she went to bed? Dadda’s grandfather had kept slaves here — would you like to see the dirt floor where they slept? While we’re down here, would you like to see my new room?

    ***

    Jeremy didn’t like the new room. It was in an empty house. Annabelle didn’t stay and play with him like he thought she would. Mother and Father faded away like mist in the wind.

    Today something was different. There were people here. They looked so odd. Was that woman wearing pants?

    Jeremy looked around and saw that they were changing things. Paint on the walls, new furniture, tables chairs dishes. Boxes and crates and bags piled throughout the house. These were not his parent’s things. He clenched his fists that were no longer fists.

    He watched these invaders as they took over one room after the other with their alien furniture and paintings and family. A man tall and unshaven — a commoner? His wife, slender but her belly large with child. And a little boy, blonde and full of laughter. Jeremy liked the little boy least of all.

    One day the woman made the boy breakfast in the kitchen, the same kitchen where his mother had made Jeremy’s breakfast every morning. When he finished he left his dirty, milk-lipped glass on the counter. These interlopers. Who were they to come in to his home, his mother’s home?

    He struck out at the glass. It flew across the room and smashed against the far wall.

    The new woman jumped and turned. She put her hand to her throat and shook.

    ***

    Jeremy didn’t like the new room. He huddled, scared inside. A loud, low thud shook the wall. A pause. Another thud.

    The woman peered into the new room through exposed slats between the plaster. She barked a laugh. "You were right."

    The man: "Just a couple more" — the crash of his mallet on the wall — "and we’ll be in."

    The hammer fell again. And again. This time the head of the mallet crushed through the wall and swung into Jeremy’s room.

    Jeremy shouted at them. He cried. He pleaded. Please, don’t come in here. Please, please don’t look.

    But they didn’t listen.

    They pulled back the boards and came into the room. Plaster dust floated in the beams of their flashlights.

    "David, what the hell?" the woman asked. She stood close to the man, reached out with her free hand and touched his arm.

    "I think that’s a body," he said. Jeremy’s real body was gone, long ago turned to ash in the South Field.

    But they saw the new Jeremy, in his new room. Where Uncle Thomas had left him. Where he was stuck. They could see the shameful things that Uncle Thomas had done to him.

    He screamed and their eyes began to bleed. They didn’t like the new room either.

  11. Adam Patrick Dole

    Paint it Black

    I felt like setting fire to it all after Annie left. Get it over as quickly as the silence had dropped when the door clicked shut behind her. Burn away the resignation left behind after seven years and nothing more than a letter and a sad wave. No words; just the sound of her bracelets chiming like links of a chain as they slid down her arm.

    That night I sat in the dark, lighting matches from the kitchen drawer, sparking them with my fingernail, belt buckle, zipper—anything other than the box because that was the easy way out. One after the other, I dropped them into the empty whiskey bottle between my legs, with the ashes of her letter. It turned out that was all I had left in me to destroy.

    The next morning I awoke with a dry mouth and a headache. I popped a beer and chased a couple aspirin while the coffee brewed. The basement door hung ajar, and I slammed it shut with the heel of my hand.

    We’d bought the house because of that basement, to make our art studio. Over the years, though, it became Annie’s art studio because I just couldn’t keep up. I rarely went down there anymore, unless I had to do laundry. I couldn’t figure out what she’d done to make it feel so claustrophobic.

    It dawned on me then that I could take it back. Put in a pool table and a big leather sofa. Everything a self-respecting bachelor needed. I drained the rest of my beer and grabbed another from the fridge, leaving the coffee.

    I felt the basement’s emptiness before I even hit the light. Her things were gone. Carved out. I hadn’t even asked her where she was going. Mostly, I think, because I’d hoped she didn’t know.

    She’d left my old art stuff in the corner, still set up like I’d been there all along. On a table sat the first painting I’d ever given her, that August night years ago. We were naked, drinking white wine from a box. I’d put my hand between her breasts and told her I was going to paint her heart. She’d watched, giggling, as I laid down an anatomically correct heart that shined like a wet cunt. To that I added a pair of grey feathered wings and spread them over a pink and orange sunrise.

    What she’d done was paint a bleeding crimson crack down the middle of the heart. I picked up the small canvas and hurled it into the shadows and cobwebs behind the hot water heater.

    I began to pull down a stack of boxes leaning against the wall, only to discover that Annie had been painting there, too. The boxes were hiding a door, no more than four feet high, painted in simple straight lines on the cinder block wall. Maybe two dozen dates were blazed on it in red numbers and slashes. Last month’s fight that had ended in a broken coffee table. Dad’s funeral. My company’s holiday party. Her last two birthdays. The earliest date was near the top, dead center: year to the day that we’d lost the baby. Annie had locked herself down here for two days after I’d refused to celebrate little Maggie’s birthday.

    I didn’t need an artist’s intuition to know she’d been preparing. Or maybe ‘practicing’ is the better word.

    I sat down hard on a box and it buckled. Something inside broke, and I canted hard left. Steadying myself, I chugged the rest of my beer. My mouth filled with saliva, and I fought to keep it down.

    I grabbed a brush and a tube of black paint, hoping it wasn’t all dried up, and set to work on the door. I painted carefully, within the lines, covering up all those days past of dead babies and broken trust. The brush was taking too long, so I started smearing the paint on with my fingers.

    I could see it taking shape before I was even done, but I finished anyway, wondering if this was what Annie saw in her mind when she finally couldn’t take anymore. The dark brushstrokes at the top merged with the fingerpainted smear at the bottom like a murky shaft of light, going into nowhere. I’d opened the door.

    I put my denial-stained hands to my face and cried for all of it. Turning away from that door, because I couldn’t face what was beyond.

    -by Adam Patrick Dole

  12. Tim Stone

    "A Shortcut to Desires"

    It was an old Victorian house of the Queen Ann style, which was built around the turn of the Nineteenth century. A masterfully crafted work of art; the architect certainly outdid himself. Two massive, brick chimneys shot toward the sky on either side. The roof was a steep series of sharp angles and a creepy attic with a single, circular window. Everything made with the finest detail, from the decorated columns, to the intricately crafted door hinges.

    I thought it was all fairly gaudy, but my wife, Olivia, fell for it instantly. Awestruck, she made sounds of surprise and admiration. Prancing from one detail to another, like a newly wealthy flapper. “It’s amazing. And haven’t we always talked about living upstate?” She sealed the deal with these words, and twinkling brown eyes that I could never resist.

    A month later we moved in, and I retained mixed feelings about leaving the city. A few days later, I found myself ascending the attic steps to store my wife’s photo albums. A string hung down from a single, uncovered light bulb. I pulled it, and peered into the dank, musty and dark space. Cobwebs and dead bats were immediately apparent, and I inched around them like a scared little girl. After moving all of the boxes up, I decided to grab a flashlight and get a better look. I trailed it along the sloping roof, and looked for any living bats. When none were found, I shifted my attention to a strange series of boards. They were crafted perhaps, more meticulously than the hinges, and I simply had to investigate. Upon further inspection, I realized that it was more of a door without a knob. Olivia called for dinner shortly after, and for a week, I forgot all about it.

    We spent time hiking, and enjoying the foliage of autumn; however, I felt as though something was lacking. I had grown up, and spent my entire life in the city. Now, I began to miss it dearly. I would complain to Olivia, and she would roll her eyes. “You’ll get used to it eventually.” Her only complain about the move, was that she missed her Mother.

    I wasn’t so sure. I would have killed a man for just one, hot, fresh bagel.

    Time passed, and Olivia spoke of finishing the attic and turning it into a viable living area. I had retired from banking with the move and had endless time on my hands. So one day, I decided to get to work. I began to clean it up, and just before getting the insulation installed, I returned to the intricate, knob-less door. I gave it a tug, but it didn’t budge. After retrieving a crowbar, I went to town, prying and pulling. Finally, it seemed to pop open, revealing the light of day. “Damn.” I said to myself, thinking that I had just caused more harm than good. Horns honked, and the sounds of city life came from the other side. As I opened it more, it looked as though it lead straight to the city. How could this be? I thought.

    In a step of faith, I realized that this was no hallucination. I laughed with great joy, and asked the first person I saw–which happened to be an old woman. “Is this New York?”

    She gave me a scared look. “Where else would it be?” Continuing on her way, she mumbled. “Crazy bums.”

    I couldn’t care less though. The door was rather plain, on the city side, and it exited between two buildings. I wanted to venture out, but decided that Olivia would probably worry if I were gone too long. So I stepped back through, into the attic with an excited feeling.

    The next morning I woke early, and went straight to the attic. A bit later, I awoke my wife with the freshest bagels we had had since moving. “Wow, where did you get these?”

    “From the farmers market.” I lied, not sure how to explain the door.

    “I bet this will help you to acclimate a bit.”

    And she was right. I soon began to fall in love with the old house, and took great joy in the best of both worlds.

    One day I was eating a bagel with my morning coffee, when Olivia ran downstairs. “Th..there is a door in the attic that leads to my Mother’s house!”

    I couldn’t help but grin.

  13. HarmonyandPeace

    "SECRET PASSAGE IN THE LIBRARY"

    As an abused child, books were my escape from reality, and they still are for me as an adult. I am feeling frustrated with the world today, decided to retreat with something different to read, and grabbed the ancient looking, leather bound book with the gold lettering from the top shelf to examine it. I am overpowered by the bookcase opening up and a force pulling me toward an obscure passageway. I take the risk of making this mystical journey. I have no choice.
    **

    The darkness envelopes me and I hear the entryway slam behind me. My mind is disoriented, yet at the same time I have the peaceful feeling that something or someone more powerful than any human being is guiding me. I feel safe.
    **

    I begin groping my war along the solid walls of this dense space I find myself in. Wait, there seems to be another opening in the wall leading somewhere else, but I hear a voice telling me not to detour. And then I see a narrow chink of green light glowing on the floor ahead of me and hurry toward it. I bump into a solid panel of some kind blocking me from going any further. I run my hands carefully over it; it might be a door, but there is no handle or lock on it. I decide to try knocking. The panel slides open.
    **

    The space I enter has no boundaries but there is an overpowering perfume of roses, my favorite flower, and I am comforted. I find myself gazing at something shrouded in soft green light and I hear a sweet voice, but cannot see a human form within the light.
    **

    “I have waited a long time for you to visit. You finally decided to respond to my voice and here I am. How may I help you?”
    **

    My self righteous mind is trying to block out this ethereal, wise spirit, and struggling to regain control over my senses. But my spirit has no fear of this power speaking to me. I offer the reply, “I know that I will soon have to return to the outside world, but I want you to give me a story to take with me that I can share in writing with others I leave today. Whenever you think I am ready, please guide me back to this inner sanctum again. I never want to separate from you again and your treasured words. I want to share them with others.”
    **

    My inner greater power entrusted me with a beautiful story, and I found my back to reality with her help. I replaced the treasured book back on the library shelf, and hurried to my favorite quiet spot to begin the draft of my first novel.

  14. John Howard Hatfield

    A Lonely Walk

    Late in the afternoon, sometimes early evening I walk to the mail box to retrieve the day’s allotment of junque mail, political propaganda, ticket applications, brochures to help me sell my timeshares, the next wad of credit card bills and maybe some real mail.

    Always, I am accompanied by my best four legged friend, Buck. He’s held that position for almost fourteen years; the last five Buck has made this trek without a restraint – says he doesn’t needed one. We arrive at the mail box close the same time; him walking on four legs to my two. Returning home, he leaves me in the dust but home waiting when I finally arrive – always patiently waiting.

    Distracted occasionally by a cat or Toby, the backyard squirrel, he will chase his nemesis desperately – never resulting in capture but always light amusement. After dark this departure can be distressful – tough to locate a black dog with a hint of white chin hair, especially when he’s moving at light speed. He’s always been able to relocate me prior to reaching our front threshold.

    Mornings we take what amounts to a forced march (others call it a walk) around the neighborhood. He’s hard to keep up with when he has a destination in his mind. Buck does enjoy stopping to confab with other especially those accompanied by their own four legged friends. Everybody knows Buck. They all want their chance to pat his head or give him a hug. Always, he patiently sits or lays waiting for the call “Let’s go Buck!”

    Passing fenced-in yappers on our path always causes him to give me a look. You can see in his eyes that he wants to say: “Isn’t there another route we can take?” Buck doesn’t bark; well, maybe once a week at Toby to keep in practice and remind others that he can

    I rescued Buck and his sister Maggie from the pound in 1996. Both reaching ninety-five pounds in their prime, I could not control them on leashes at the same time. This I fixed by yoking them together; them working against one another enabled me to benefit from their comical misdirection.

    Buck used to chase balls but gave that up five years ago also. He makes these decisions unilaterally; never asking my opinion.

    Buck likes us to rest together on the deck steps; he’s always on my right side, never on my left. Maggie held that position for twelve years; she’s gone now due to canine cancer, leaving Buck and I by ourselves.

    Buck likes lying at my feet while I sit outside to write, occasionally getting up to drink or chase Toby along the fence. When duty’s complete, he returns to his post. Sometimes disinterested with our leisure; he will push aside my laptop, lay his big black head in its place, look up with huge brown eyes staring deep into your soul and seem to say: “Can’t we do something else for a while?” I scruff his head and he’s again satisfied. He goes back to whatever it was that he’d been doing – really nothing.

    When nighttime comes, we take a final trip outside then make our desperate climb to the second floor. He lays watching others’ activity prior to sleep; but come morning, he’s always there along my side of the bed stretched out on his blanket waiting. If I have a bad morning incapacitating me, he sits right beside the bed watching, never straying. Mornings when I’m slow to rise, he gets impatient. Putting his front feet up on the bedside and towering over me as though to say: “Aren’t you ready yet?” Remaining there and slowly lowering his head, resting it on my stomach he watches until I make sufficient movement to dislodge him.

    Buck’s only real talent is being my friend, there every step I take – my shadow. I can reach down to my left and touch a true friend – always.

    Over the last several months Buck has developed cancer and getting better isn’t in the cards. His pain and life itself made it increasingly hard to watch him go through the day. Last night, I made the decision to have Buck put down; this morning making the appointment to end the chase – one of the hardest things I have ever had the occasion to do.

    Tonight’s walk to the mail box will be a very lonely walk. I’m sure gonna miss Buck.

  15. Elizabeth Johnson

    Hidden History

    My muscles burned, my sinuses complained from the sawdust and paint dust, and my forehead and forearms dripped with sweat. Jay and I had just moved to Poland to do missions work and teach English at a local college. We had found a beautiful old home that dated back at least a century, but we wanted to do a little work on it before moving in – modernizing some of the plumbing, expanding a few of the rooms, and improving the overall structural integrity of the house, while still maintaining its historical charm. We had started the morning in one of the tiny bedrooms, hoping to connect it with its adjoining room and combine them into a spacious master suite.

    I was so intent on getting the wall torn down before lunchtime that it took my brain a few seconds to register what my eyes were seeing, and my hammer almost swung right into it. I managed to stop my arm in time, however, and called Jay over to my side of the room. He laid down his hammer and walked over. Warsaw’s best classical station blared out of the stereo into an otherwise quiet room as we both stood there, staring at an old door that had been hidden behind the wall.

    Jay finally reached over and muted the speakers, then rubbed his sweaty dust-covered hands against his jeans and reached out toward the rusted door latch. I held my breath, curiosity holding my hesitation in check. But the latch stuck. As Jay fumbled with the rusted pieces, trying to pry them apart with his fingers, I looked around the room for something to help. Spying the toolbox in the corner, I grabbed a screwdriver from it and handed him the tool.

    A few minutes later, I winced as he pulled rusted metal against rusted metal. The latch pulled free and the door loosened slightly from its frame. Once again, the screwdriver came in handy, as Jay used it to clear the thin film of paint that still lingered around the door itself. As he broke through the last few inches, I grabbed the edge of the door and started pulling it open. Mustiness hit us full-force, along with paint dust and a few splinters of wood. I sensed Jay leaving me there, and turned to see him grabbing a flashlight from the toolbox. It was small, but it would give us some idea of what was beyond the darkened doorway.

    The light penetrated just a few feet, and we cautiously stepped forward, hands outstretched and toes testing the ground before our feet landed fully. I had only taken two little steps before Jay stopped in front of me. He had come up against a wall. He inched to the right and we realized the space extended sideways. We moved further into the darkness, the flashlight almost useless in the confined space. This time, we had gone about five feet before Jay paused again, having come up against another wall. I moved back to the doorway and let him continue on in the other direction, while I watched from the now-spacious feeling room. He didn’t get very far before scuffing his foot on something.

    My curiosity got the better of me, and I went in to join him. He had picked up an old book from the floor, its pages curling and binding almost worn out, with a piece of fabric tucked inside like a bookmark. He handed it to me and continued further, searching the floor more intently now as he inched along. The flashlight’s beam caught a glimpse of something else, and Jay leaned over to pick it up. As he handed it to me and I felt its contours, I instinctively realized where we were standing, and the thought overwhelmed me.

    I walked back to the room for better light. I held a doll in one hand, its features faded and its clothes as tattered as any well-loved doll would be today. In my other hand, I held a worn-out book. The words on its cover looked like Hebrew. I opened the book to examine the pale fabric that was sticking out.

    It had a yellow Star of David on it with a black “J” in its center.

  16. Martina Vancour

    While remodeling a room of my house, I discover a door to another room I didn’t know existed. The door was under the hardwood floors that were so badly dented and scratched that they just had to go. Its lock was like one you would find on a pirates chest. I was so excited, I ran downstairs to see just where the door might led to but, I could not find anything that looked like a door in the joints of the ceiling. Strange. I went back up and picked up my tape measure and measured the wall to the door and went back down. There was no mistake. there was another room that the door led to. There was 3 feet missing the width of the room.

    I picked up my metal cutters and went up the stairs. This was going to be fun. I haven’t felt like this since I was ten years old, when I found a ladies diamond ring in the forest and returned it to her. She rewarded me with a big scoop of chocolate ice cream.

    I knelt down next to the door and cut the lock off. It can off easily. I wondered what was in the room below. It looked like it has been hidden for more than a century. I was hoping for a chest full of rubies and diamonds. The island that I lived on was rumoured to have been a place where the pirates buried their treasures, then they would be of to get more bounty. There has been lots of people who have searched the island for the hidden treasure, but never have found one piece of it.

    I was so engrossed in what I was thinking that I didn’t hear the wind chimes outside the window start to make their beautiful music. As I smiled to myself, I started to pull the door up and open. A gust of wind blew the door open further and onto the floor with a thump.

    Startled I looked around in disbelief. Where had the wind come from? It was pitch black down there and there was no wind coming up there now. I grabbed my flashlight from the other room and looked into the hole. There was a set of stairs that went down about 8 feet then veered off to the left. There were so much dust on the stairs that it looked like a thin sheet was over them.

    With the flashlight firmly in my hand I started walking down the stairs. I made it to the turn and saw several more to go down. I continued down and saw that the stairs stopped in a small room. Walls made of stone and clay. Candles were on the wall waiting to be lit. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my lighter that never left my side. With the candles lit, I looked around the room.

    Other then the candles there was nothing in the room. And it would have been too small to hide pirate treasures. So much for my treasure. I leaned up against the wall by the bottom of the stairs disappointed. It would have made a great story. I thumped my hand against the wall. Shocked, I looked at my hand. I had cut it on a small, sharp rock. Drat! It hurts. But as the blood spilled on the floor, there was as sound of rocks scratching across each other. I looked up in amazement and saw that the entire wall had disappeared and the cavern in front of me was lit up with glitter.

    There were little words to say when I stood at the entrance to the pirates cave. It was amazing. Filled to the brim with gold, diamonds, jewellery from all types of countries and what looked like a statue of a Greek goddess! I had done it! I will be world famous for finding the treasure!

    Another gust of wind blew past me and the door up the stairs blew shut. I felt strong, warm arms embracing me like a lover and a whisper in my ear, “Thost has found me my love, we will be one with our treasure and love for all time.”

    In a fog, I turn and kissed the man who held me so tightly, “I have missed you my love and now we can be one again.”

    With the sound of chimes, we entered the cave and the wall closed behind us.

  17. Dare Gaither

    "Energy Loss"

    The room had always seemed evil.
    Something just wasn’t right about it.
    It gave me the eerie feeling of being in an Escher drawing
    filled with impossible angles and baffling perspectives.
    I looked forward to the renovation with hopes of
    ending up with a usable room and a sound mind.

    The cheap paneling came off easily.
    I was already champing at the bit to start painting
    as I ripped off the last section of veneer.
    That’s when I saw it.

    A narrow door stood revealed in the center of the bare wall.
    A shiver ran down my spine.
    I let the anticipation build as I imagined what lay behind the door.
    Boundless treasure?
    A secret passageway to another universe?
    A worthless stack of empty paint cans?
    I took a deep breath and opened the door.

    I laughed in disbelief at the scene before me.
    The room was no bigger than a walk-in closet.
    There on the floor was a miniature city populated
    with toy robots going about their programmed tasks.
    A large computer whirred softly in the background.
    A small sphere glowed brightly at the center of the robot city.
    Each robot had what appeared to be a tiny antenna on its head.
    The robot’s movements were perfectly synchronized to give
    the illusion of intention and purpose. I was mesmerized by
    the intricate beauty of this mysterious creation.

    I walked over to the computer and stared at the ever-changing
    numbers flashing on the screen. On a desk next to the computer
    I saw a notebook covered in dust. Three sneezes later I began
    to peruse the faded writing on the pages of the book.
    It was filled with equations and formulas that were
    foreign to me. I didn’t understand the theoretical physics, but
    the conclusion hit me like a lightening bolt.
    The unknown scientist had discovered a method of
    creating a self-perpetuating energy source.
    Who was he and why had his discovery been kept hidden?
    According to the dates in the notebook, the robot city and
    its attendant computer had been running on this source
    alone for over 25 years. Could this be the answer to the
    global energy shortage?

    My heart was pounding as I carefully closed the notebook.
    What was the best thing to do with this information?
    The notebook entries were dated from the 1980’s, but there
    was no name to identify the writer. Was he still alive?
    First I would call the physics department at the nearby University
    and show them what I had found. I headed to the door with the
    notebook firmly in my grasp.

    Suddenly an alarm sounded and a red light flashed ominously
    above the door. I felt a sharp pain in my leg and looked down
    to see a small dart embedded in my flesh. I turned and gasped as
    I saw the robots swarming at me, shooting more of the darts as
    they came. I staggered toward the open door as a wave of dizziness
    overwhelmed me. As I began to lose consciousness I threw the
    notebook at the robots and hurled myself in the direction of the door.
    Blackness engulfed me.

    I awoke to find myself lying on a stack of old paneling.
    I sat up and waited for the ensuing dizziness to subside.
    I looked around me and saw a gaping hole in the wall
    where the hidden door had been. Through the hole I could
    see the bare wooden framework of the secret room.
    It was completely gutted. Only the floor was intact.

    I stood up and shook myself.
    I seemed to be okay. I cautiously approached
    the wall and peered through the hole. It was all gone….
    the robots, the computer, the notebook. There was
    no evidence that anything had ever been there.
    A slight acid smell filled the room and flakes of
    grey ash coated the floor.

    Had it really happened, or did I imagine it all?
    As if in response, a lone robot appeared from behind
    a 2×4 and scuttled past me into the hallway.
    I ran after it just in time to see it self-destruct in a
    puff of smoke.

    My mind struggled to make sense of what had happened.
    I sighed and shook my head.
    It was beyond comprehension.
    I guess that’s it, then.
    We’ll have to find other solutions to save the world.
    I hope we can.

    Only one question remains.
    Should I hang the new drywall myself,
    or hire a contractor?

  18. Fatima Dramani

    Ok, so check this out.

    I’m getting ready to re haul my bedroom and make like one of those Extreme Makeover crew you see on TV making fairy tales out of lost dreams. The cobwebs in the corner of the ceiling of my bedroom is what prompted me to finally get up and get something done about the mess inside. Rather old fashioned and nondescript, I wanted to add a certain something extraordinary. Maybe a disco ball instead of a chandelier. Or ceramic walls rather than the traditional paint or wallpaper. Maybe even a jungle theme. I could have Mufasa’s Mane as my headboard maybe and a Hyena clock to accessorise and do good to wake me up in the mornings.

    Lost in some kind of crazy imagination, the sweat pours off my brow. I really could appreciate some help, but everyone suddenly has something extra special and important to do. Mother has a backache, sisters have schoolwork and brother all of a sudden has lost his hearing.

    ”I really need some help here.” I cry out.

    There is so much junk in this place from way back who knows when. Old ballet shoes from when I was fifteen, wigs, makeup unused, old clothes unable to fit. I scratch my head as I pull out what looks like a Genies lamp from a box that has fallen over.

    ”Please get me some help.” I wish as I rub the object in my hand. Laughing to myself, I throw it back into the box with the rest of the charity shop donations. Pushing my wardrobe out of the room, a bone clicks. I may have to rethink this whole thing, my backs almost out already. What motivates the perseverance though, is this door that has appeared from where the wardrobe stood. I stand back astounded, never in a million did I ever know that door was there. I turn the knob and I am denied entry. Great. I look around my room.

    ”Where is the key?” I mutter. ”Someone help me find this key.” Ok, let me explain, talking to myself isn’t anything new, so run with me – I’m not going crazy. I search high and low, underneath and below. No key. I try the door again only to find a rusty old key sticking out of the keyhole. That certainly wasn’t there before. I turn the lock and the door swings open.

    Now I’m not one to be afraid of the dark or all things that go bump in the night, but I’ll admit that my heart is working overtime at the thought of what lies beyond the darkness that I can’t see, so Uncle Sam’s baseball bat in my hand comes in handy.

    ”Hello?” I call out, anyone there?” Why I call out, I do not know as I know that I am the only one living in this house. Definitely too many scary movies are making its mark no doubt.

    ”Please somebody come out if you’re there”. I call again. Why do I keep doing that? Just shut up!

    Before the thought of rebuke has left my head, I hear an army of feet marching. Tiny pitter patters. Little strange creatures run out one by one. I can only at best describe them as Oompa Loompas. Hundreds of Oompa Loompas trawling through that open door to form a line in front of me carrying packages and loads and armfuls of stuff.

    As you can imagine, my jaw is wide open and now I have no words to speak. One of the Oompa Loompas steps out, a trumpet blows and he clears his throat.

    ”Well, don’t just stand there gawping at us lady ” He squeaks. ”You rubbed the lamp and asked for help and here we are are a service to you. Welcome to Extreme Makeover”.

  19. Dorraine

    Summer did zoom by, Zac. I hope yours was great!

    Mark, after reading your story, I might have to sleep with the lights on. Excellent!

    The Blueberry Patch

    “Village Acre.” A treasure from the past. Experience the history and beauty of this circa 1800’s Cape Cod in Bennington, Vermont, Complete with your own blueberry patch!

    This one had me with hello. So, the Henderson family moved in. Me, Janet, my husband, Jim, and our five-year-old twin girls, Jessica and Josie. Yeah, we’re dorky with the J names. I know, I know. But there are worse things.

    Much worse.

    We’d only been in the house a month when the noises began; rapping sounds on the walls from the girl’s upstairs bedroom. One night we raced upstairs to find the girls in the middle of the floor, staring up at the ceiling, laughing hysterically. When we asked what was so funny, Jessica said, “That little girl Hattie is.” Of course we couldn’t see anything, and had asked the girls if they’d heard the knocking, which happened several times a week.

    Josie piped up, “Hattie’s mama wants out!”

    As much as I loved this place, it unnerved me, too. The sensation in the house was strangling, as though the air was weighed down by invisible bricks. And I thought I’d seen the apparition of a man on several occasions, always in the kitchen, and with the same leering smile. He wasn’t from our era.

    “I don’t believe in spooks, I don’t believe in spooks, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t.” This was my revised Cowardly Lion mantra because almost every day something else happened to force me to believe.

    Soon we moved the girls out of that bedroom with plans for remodeling. Because of the weird, unexplainable things going on in there, we didn’t plan on moving them back in. It would be used for a guest bedroom. We love you family and friends!

    Of course the first thing we did was peel off several layers of old wallpaper, and there, on an inside wall, was a four by three foot wooden rustic door, sealed tight. Jim got a crowbar and pried it open. When he did, a blast of frigid air literally knocked us backwards.

    The secret room was about half the size of the bedroom, complete with creepy accessories: an old wooden chair in the middle of the room, and in the corner, a tin trunk with old toys and a woman’s white dress, which appeared to be from the 1800’s. We also found a small jeweled box. Inside was a newspaper clipping, some dried berries, and a lock of long brown hair, which gave me goose-bumps.

    Hair was standing up on my neck as Jim read the article. “Woman Missing- Husband Questioned- By Associated Press-Bennington, Vermont, Sept. 20

    Man Tells Garbled Story

    Thomas Nelson told an incoherent story about his wife drowning in the creek behind their home after falling in while walking last week. When first questioned about her disappearance, he said he believed she had gone into town, until their young daughter, Hattie, claimed she heard her mother calling for help behind their home. The hunt for Francis Nelson was officially called off yesterday, after finding her shredded clothes on a downed branch ten miles downstream. Her body was never recovered. Thomas Nelson has been cleared of all charges.”

    Without a word between us, we knew this dress and lock of hair belonged to Francis. And we also knew she’d been murdered by her husband and possibly kept in this room. I’m not sure where her bones were now, but I had my suspicions. And so did Jim.

    “Get the camera,” Jim said.

    I ran to our bedroom, grabbed the camera, and snapped a few shots of the secret room before Jim sealed it back up. Later, when we had the pictures developed, popping out of the mist were the ethereal black and white silhouette’s of a man with a leering smile, a frightened looking woman, and a child, all dressed in 1800’s attire.

    House for sale

    Experience the history and beauty of this circa 1800’s Cape Cod in Bennington, Vermont.

    “Did I mention there was a blueberry patch?”

  20. Mark James

    Zac, they were going to redecorate, but . . .

    I’m a patient man. And I love Nisha to death. But his charms drive me crazy. “You sure you didn’t drop it outside?”

    “I had it when we came in.”

    I watched his blue eyes scan the darkness that pooled between shafts of moonlight. “Hey,” I said. “You’re with me. Relax.”

    “We shouldn’t be here.” He turned in a slow circle. “I don’t think the guy in town was kidding.”

    His gold rabbit foot charm was missing from around his neck, and I knew it didn’t matter what I said, he wasn’t going down without it. “Did you the see the little black sign on his door?” I got down on my hands and knees, felt around on the splintered wooden floor. “You trust someone who gives ghost tours in a graveyard?”

    “Where else would they be?” Nisha said.

    “Any decent ghost would be out haunting some place.” My hands ran over a leaf that crumbled under my fingers just before I came across something hard and cold. I grabbed at it. “Nisha?”

    He spun around. “What?”

    Getting up, slapping the dust from my jeans, I said, “You want your charm or a lucky kiss?”

    He grabbed the gold necklace from my grimy fingers, shoved it deep in the front pocket of his jeans. “I’ll kiss you later.” A shiver ran through him. “We’re not alone. Can’t you feel it?”

    “I can feel something,” I said. “But it’s too hard to be in the spirit world.” I kissed his neck.

    He gave in, let me kiss him, whispered against my lips, “Do you have your knives?”

    I raised my hands, flicked my wrists. Two ten inch blades shot out, gleamed in moonlight. “You ready?” I said.

    “No.” Nisha looked up at the jagged holes in the roof. “We should come back when the sun’s up.”

    “Basement’s this way.”

    “Why didn’t your grandfather just leave you money?” Nisha trailed after me, flinching at every shadow he passed through.

    “He did,” I said. “It’s down cellar. And we’re getting it out tonight before my brothers lawyer up.”

    “Vance?” His voice was a trembling whisper.

    I whipped around. “What?”

    “There’s someone behind me.”

    There was nothing, just Nisha’s pale face and wide eyes. “Quit spooking yourself.”

    He let out a breath that sounded like a sob. “Let’s wait in the car, till morning, then we’ll come back in.”

    This was going to be harder than I thought. I took his wrist, pulled him along. “Stay close.”

    The basement door was where I remembered. We went down the steps, almost made it to the bottom before Nisha whispered, “He’s behind me again.”

    I stepped off the last step and walked into a door so hard, I smashed my nose against it, and Nisha slammed into me. “Back up a minute,” I said.

    “What’s wrong?”

    I ran my fingers over the door that shouldn’t have been there, made myself take a deep breath, then retraced the shape I’d found. “Give me your rabbit’s foot,” I said.

    “I need it. We’re in a haunted cellar.”

    There wasn’t any time to argue with him, because I could hear the door we’d come through swinging slowly shut, and soon he’d hear it and panic. I yanked him close, jammed my hand into his front pocket, and wrapped my fingers around the rabbit’s foot.

    With Nisha clawing at my back, screaming that a ghost was choking him, I pressed the charm into the shape I’d felt on the door. It opened into a coffin-sized room. A single candle burned on top of a chest.

    A giant hand pushed me. I flew to the floor. Nisha crashed down beside me.

    If we got nothing but the chest out, we would be millionaires for life. It looked like solid gold. But it got better. Diamonds, emeralds, gold cups, silver rings, glittered in the candlelight.

    Behind us, the door slammed shut.

    Nisha shoved a sheet of parchment at me. “That better be a map to the secret way out.” He glanced at the door. “I don’t see any doorknob.”

    I held it under the candle. It was my grandfather’s writing. “Dear Vance,” I read out loud, “I know it’s you, because you always were a greedy boy. You’ll be guarding my treasure forever. If any of your no good brothers come for it, you know what to do.”

    Nisha was already pounding at the door, acting like he knew I’d dropped his rabbit foot on the other side. I wondered how long before the candle burned out, and after that, how much longer before neither of us could stop screaming.

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